‘The Vale of Soul-mak­ing’

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It has been justly ob­served that Drucker is a “painter of con­cepts.” In a less artis­tic way, we may also add that as a philoso­pher of busi­ness man­age­ment he was deeply con­cerned with the re­con­struc­tion of the con­cep­tual struc­ture of cor­po­rate thought. How­ever, the ob­ser­va­tion made about him, so poignant in con­den­sa­tion, has vast ram­i­fi­ca­tion in the fields of teach­ing and re­search. As an at­ti­tude, it says much more than words could ever say. Drawn into the con­text of teach­ing and re­search, it bears upon the sit­u­a­tion in which con­cepts with­out per­cepts are philo­soph­i­cally bar­ren and blind and per­cepts with­out con­cepts are empty and de­void of ped­a­gog­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. To­gether, the con­cep­tual struc­tures of our per­cep­tual or­ga­ni­za­tions re­flect upon the cu­rios­ity of an in­quir­ing mind want­ing to reach be­yond the ken of its com­pre­hen­sion. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, they iden­tify the élan vi­tal, the vi­tal urge, of the tran­scend­ing vi­sion to see be­yond the last hori­zon in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the yet to be.

In the domain of our con­cep­tual frame­work, if the painter of men­tal ter­rain is con­tent with the world as it is, he is not a painter but a cap­tive of a sin­gle vi­sion. A real painter is one who suf­fers from cre­ative dis­con­tent with the “given” world, i.e., the world as it is. He paints a pic­ture of the world not as it is but as it ought to be. His con­cepts and ideas are an in­ter­me­di­ate be­tween the “thus it is” and “thus it is not”, be­tween the given world and the world to be. Such a tran­scend­ing vi­sion un­folds the an­tic­i­pa­tions which make the worldly ex­is­tence an un­re­peat­able once in a life-time ven­ture. It shows that there ex­ists a dy­namic re­la­tion­ship be­tween our con­cept of the world and our way of cir­cum­stanc­ing our sit­u­ated ex­is­tence in the world. It is in the light of our be­liefs about the na­ture of the world, i.e., our world-view, that we for­mu­late our con­cep­tions of the norms and val­ues that gov­ern the world­li­ness of the world. And th­ese con­cepts de­fine the pa­ram­e­ters within which we frame our con­duct in re­la­tion to our be­ing-in-the-world.

Our be­ing-in-the-world is a re­flec­tion of the val­ues we live by and the na­ture of the prepo­si­tion in de­fines our way of cir­cum­stanc­ing the world. A man and his preda­tor are both in the world but not in the same man­ner of be­ing. It seems that the “world” is a mis­nomer when it is ap­plied to the world con­cept. The ‘world’, if it is not a lived-world, means noth­ing and does not ex­ist. There is no such place as the world.

There are as many worlds as there are ways of be­ing-in-the world. The con­cept of the world there­fore is rel­a­tive to our way of mak­ing the world our own. We do not live in dif­fer­ent worlds but we live in the same world dif­fer­ently. Iqbal made the phe­nomeno­log­i­cal con­cept of the lived-world strik­ingly clear.

Such tran­scen­den­tal move­ment lies at the heart of re­search ori­en­ta­tion, as well as tacit and con­tex­tual learn­ing and teach­ing. As an in­te­gral com­po­nent of the teach­ing method­ol­ogy, tran­scend­ing vi­sion char­ac­ter­izes a con­tin­u­ous and in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ment. It en­larges our per­spec­tive on life and deep­ens our world-view.

When we em­barked upon the pub­li­ca­tion of Busi­ness Re­view we stressed the need for a col­lab­o­ra­tive and in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary eclec­tic re­search cul­ture. It con­tin­ues to be our cher­ished vi­sion. We be­lieve that in re­search, as in teach­ing and learn­ing and more so in life, we should not re­main cap­tive of our own nar­row vi­sion, un­ex­am­ined as­sump­tions and un­ques­tioned pre­sup­po­si­tions.

They can, as they al­ways do, blur and dis­tort our per­cep­tion of truth and re­al­ity. In our search for re­al­ity and in our ro­mance with truth, we must there­fore take a phe­nomeno­log­i­cally rad­i­cal at­ti­tude to­wards self­ex­plo­ration and self-ex­am­i­na­tion, as an es­sen­tial fea­ture of our re­search method­ol­ogy. More­over, to aug­ment au­then­tic re­search aware­ness we must draw into our busi­ness cur­ricu­lum a recog­ni­tion of the role hu­man­i­ties and so­cial sciences

play in the for­mu­la­tion of a cor­po­rate world-view, pro­vid­ing it eth­i­cal and moral foun­da­tion.

Re­search ini­ti­ates the ad­vent of new ideas and the be­gin­ning of new knowl­edge. It takes us into the realm of un­der­stand­ing not yet en­vi­sioned by the hu­man mind. The an­tic­i­pa­tory at­ti­tude and the cre­ative joy of re­search thrives on the gestal­tan aware­ness of the per­spec­ti­val vari­a­tion, un­fold­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties in­her­ent in the struc­ture of our for­ward look­ing move­ment to­wards the yetto-be. Re­search un­folds the hori­zons still un­marked by the foot­prints of hu­man imag­i­na­tion. By de­mol­ish­ing the ex­ist­ing bar­ri­ers, it pushes the for­bid­ding bound­aries fur­ther and far­ther still.

Method­olog­i­cally, that is how re­search adds new mean­ings, new val­ues and new ideals to our be­ing-in-the-world; en­larg­ing the familiar mean­ing of the world. Such value added con­cep­tual knowl­edge ac­quires sig­nif­i­cance in and through its ex­ten­sion into the “world-mak­ing” and “world-shak­ing” acts. The so­cio-cul­tural con­struc­tion of re­al­ity is pred­i­cated upon the mean­ing in­tend­ing and eval­u­a­tive na­ture of the con­sti­tu­tive in­ten­tion­al­ity of our con­scious­ness. The no­tion of in­ten­tional con­sti­tu­tion must there­fore be drawn into the fold of the con­cept of cor­po­rate re­al­ity in or­der to have a clear and dis­tinct per­cep­tion of the cor­po­rate world­view. The con­sti­tu­tion of cor­po­rate re­al­ity gains sig­nif­i­cance against the back­drop of our re­search im­per­a­tives be­com­ing in­creas­ingly fo­cused on the con­cept of moral re­spon­si­bil­ity em­bed­ded in the Par­a­digm of our cor­po­rate world­view. Value based knowl­edge leads to the an­tic­i­pa­tion of thus it ought to be. When re­search is con­ducted with such cre­ative pas­sion, it colours our dreams and brighten the dawn of the world-to-be. Our suc­cess and fail­ure in this re­gard will de­pend en­tirely upon two things. Firstly, to put it in the Qur’anic par­lance, a whole hearted will­ing­ness to ac­cept so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity for our por­tion of the world. And, se­condly, the in­vin­ci­bil­ity of our po­lit­i­cal will to trans­late the ex­ist­ing so­cial is­sues into eth­i­cal is­sues in or­der to pro­vide moral foun­da­tion to our worldly con­di­tion. Again, it means two things. Firstly, the need to draw hermeneu­tic and ax­i­o­log­i­cal prin­ci­ples into the ped­a­gog­i­cal phi­los­o­phy of our busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion. And, se­condly, to de­vise and de­velop a teach­ing method­ol­ogy in­cor­po­rat­ing di­verse philoso­phies, the­o­ries and re­search de­signs and meth­ods as one of its strengths. The aim should be to in­cul­cate eth­i­cal vi­sion and moral pro­cliv­ity into our cor­po­rate cul­ture suf­fer­ing from con­gen­i­tal self-ag­gran­dis­e­ment, vo­ra­cious and greedy con­sumerism, self-in­ter­est and profit-rid­den com­mer­cial­ism. In the light of post­mod­ernist so­cial cri­tiques, it is now be­com­ing more and more ev­i­dent that we can­not out­line the con­tours of a cor­po­rate phi­los­o­phy of life and cul­ture with­out drawing into our busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion the val­ues which are in­te­gral to the ethos of moral char­ac­ter and the dis­ci­pline of cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity and adult ma­tu­rity.

The cul­ture of cor­po­rate so­ci­ety and aca­demic schol­ar­ship is het­ero­ge­neous with over­lap­ping do­mains of prac­tice and knowl­edge that need not be an­ti­thet­i­cal in their ethico-moral ori­en­ta­tion, es­pe­cially within the dis­ci­plinary com­mu­ni­ties such as ed­u­ca­tion, so­ci­ol­ogy and hu­man­i­ties. The need for in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary ar­eas of study can­not be over stressed in qual­i­ta­tive re­search in the realm of cor­po­rate cul­ture. The lead­er­ship role in this re­gard goes again to Drucker, a philoso­pher of man­age­ment, whose ideas em­brace the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ of cor­po­rate think­ing. His vi­sion is in­formed by over­lap­ping con­cepts, con­verg­ing upon di­verse is­sues of busi­ness so­ci­ety re­plete with pro­found sig­nif­i­cance in the field of busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion.

To­gether, they present a uniquely ex­cit­ing pic­ture of the “Knowl­edge So­ci­ety”, a fu­tur­is­tic vi­sion of the cor­po­rate world.

The glory and great­ness of a so­ci­ety and the feel­ing of guilt and shame of man’s fail­ure as a man, pro­vide us with a glimpse into the mind and soul of an age. His­tory of ideas and its con­nec­tion with the lived-world re­veals the struc­tural prob­lems, strengths and weak­nesses, and also the cre­ative and defin­ing com­pul­sions in­her­ent in a given par­a­digm. The stunning col­lapses and break­downs of Maxwell, BCCI, Polly Peck and oth­ers in the UK, USA and else­where and the rise and fall of En­ron, have left us won­der­ing about the baf­fling na­ture of the eth­i­cal and moral flaws in­her­ent in the cor­po­rate world-view. Events such as

th­ese present pow­er­ful in­dict­ment of the cor­po­rate sys­tem suf­fer­ing from foun­da­tional stress.

It is now be­com­ing more and more ev­i­dent that in a self­sus­tain­ing cor­po­rate world­view, the moral ed­u­ca­tion of our man­agers, ad­min­is­tra­tors and busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives ought to be an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of their role in so­ci­ety. Iron­i­cally, in the ex­ist­ing state of af­fairs, the place of ethics and moral dis­po­si­tion in our busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion leaves much to be de­sired. In or­der to be true to our call­ing, we need to in­te­grate Busi­ness Ethics as a core sub­ject into our syl­labus. How­ever, to make such an ideal the sum­mum bonum of our cor­po­rate world-view, we must ap­proach the is­sue with joy­ful wis­dom, to say the things we need to say, to think the thoughts we ought to think. In a con­stantly chang­ing “world”, the things which mat­ter most are the things which make a dif­fer­ence in our life. Our choices and de­ci­sions can rad­i­cally al­ter and change our ways of be­ing-in-the-world. Robert Frost has beau­ti­fully ex­pressed the po­et­ics of such an ex­pe­ri­ence thus. “I shall be telling this with a sigh some­where ages and ages hence: Two roads di­verged in wood, and I took the one less trav­elled by, And that has made all the dif­fer­ence.” “Know­ing how way leads on to way”, seek­ing the goal we are seek­ing, let us keep in mind the fol­low­ing mark­ings: • the need to work ethics and moral vi­sion into the ex­ec­u­tive ori­en­ta­tion and eval­u­a­tive judge­ments of our busi­ness man­age­ment, re­al­iz­ing the philo­soph­i­cal re­frain that in or­der to grow eth­i­cally and morally and to add value di­men­sion to our cor­po­rate world-view, we need to out­grow our ex­ist­ing dis­re­gard and apathy for the hu­man­i­ties, and in this re­gard, ex­ert the cre­ative will to re­move from our busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion the stigma that the ideal of moral ed­u­ca­tion and eth­i­cal per­sua­sion does not har­mo­nize with eco­nomic mo­ti­va­tion and that such an ideal of busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion rests on a scheme of teach­ing and learn­ing which is un-prag­matic and un­prac­ti­cal, know­ing that the truth is al­ways out there, within the reach of our re­flex­ive aware­ness, invit­ing us – the ex­po­nents of moral­ity in busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion – to dis­play the wis­dom to ex­pose our stu­dents to such a cat­alytic ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence and to make it the best it can pos­si­bly be, • and to re­sist no more the pas­sion to crit­i­cally and cre­atively will the truth in or­der to com­bat the stul­ti­fy­ing con­cepts and fal­si­fi­ca­tions which have crept into the be­lief that in the scheme of our ex­ec­u­tive dis­po­si­tion, the propen­sity for busi­ness man­age­ment and de­ci­sion mak­ing does not cor­re­late with the eth­i­cal and moral predilec­tion, and then to de­ci­sively set aside the du­bi­ous be­lief that in a busi­ness so­ci­ety suc­cess de­pends upon ma­nip­u­la­tion of so­cial norms and cul­tural sen­si­bil­i­ties, ex­ploita­tion of ex­ec­u­tive power, ide­al­iza­tion of shal­low prag­matic be­lief in the ex­pe­di­ent work­a­bil­ity of ideas and an ob­ses­sively over-rid­ing con­cern with profit and more profit re­sult­ing in a schiz­o­phrenic dis­re­gard for eth­i­cal norms and moral val­ues, • to re­al­ize the ex­is­ten­tial truth that, in the end, it does not profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul. We must there­fore ex­er­cise moral ex­er­tion to out­grow the fix­a­tion on equat­ing eco­nomic life with money.

It is per­ti­nent to note, as Jack Beatty in his The World Ac­cord­ing to Drucker has very aptly pointed out: “Drucker dis­cusses eco­nomic life in terms of val­ues, in­tegrity, char­ac­ter, knowl­edge, vi­sion, re­spon­si­bil­ity, self-con­trol, so­cial in­te­gra­tion, team­work, com­mu­nity, com­pe­tence, so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, the qual­ity of life, self-ful­fill­ment, lead­er­ship, duty, pur­pose, dig­nity, mean­ing – but rarely money. He de­fends profit, but as if it were broc­coli: a dis­taste­ful obli­ga­tion of man­agers who would rather be read­ing Kierkegaard.”

Drawn into a road map, the dis­tinc­tive fea­tures out­lined above will de­fine the dy­namic and cre­ative mark­ings of the cor­po­rate world-view. They will gen­er­ate the prag­matic at­ti­tude of us­ing our moral edge for sus­tain­able com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage and prof­itabil­ity. No mat­ter how en­tirely self-serv­ing in their mo­ti­va­tional dis­po­si­tion, at­ti­tudes, de­ci­sions and ideals, the defin­ing fea­tures stip­u­lated above must serve as the es­sen­tial cat­e­gories of cor­po­rate think­ing. Cog­ni­tively, such an ap­proach is hermeneu­ti­cally nec­es­sary at any given stage of our busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion in or­der to move to still higher stages of the devel­op­ment of the ethos of our cor­po­rate cul­ture.

Such a rad­i­cally al­tered way of think­ing will help us un­der­stand that the cor­po­rate cul­ture need not be averse to the long­ings of eth­i­cal sen­si­bil­i­ties and the yearn­ings of moral char­ac­ter. By no means should they be an­tag­o­nis­tic or an­ti­thet­i­cal to the prac­ti­cal striv­ings of cor­po­rate com­pul­sions. In fact they should make a com­pelling case for the as­sump­tion that in or­der to be­come em­bed­ded in the cur­ricu­lum of our busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion, our cor­po­rate world-view needs to be a mov­ing tar­get, un­fold­ing al­ways the fresh­ness of the world-tobe.

In the words of T.S. Eliot, “We must not cease from ex­plo­ration and the end of all our ex­plor­ing will be to ar­rive where we be­gan and to know the place for the first-time.”

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